Sam Allardyce
Sam Allardyce won his first game in charge thanks to a last-minute goal Getty Images


  • The 30-year-old skipper played deeper than had been suggested pre-match.
  • Allardyce admitted he gave Rooney freedom to play where he wanted to.

England manager Sam Allardyce has admitted captain Wayne Rooney played "wherever he wanted to" in the Three Lions' 1-0 win in their opening World Cup qualifier against Slovakia at the Stadion Antona Malatinskeho. England won courtesy of a last-minute goal from Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana, but the post-match talk centred on Rooney's position.

Allardyce - who recently claimed Rooney would line up for England in the number ten role, as he has been doing for Manchester United this season - admitted his captain was given a free role to influence the game. Rooney was dropping noticeably deep in the first half, in particular, but Allardyce insisted he had no issues with the role his captain assumed.

"Today Wayne played wherever he wanted to," the newly-appointed boss told ITV. "He was brilliant and controlled midfield. I can't stop Wayne playing there."

Meanwhile, the United star insisted he played where he was instructed to by the new manager. "That's where Sam wanted me to play," explained Rooney, who has been operating behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic for United this season. "We worked on it through the week. When the team was announced a lot of people thought I was going to play higher, but it suits me."

Rooney said, too, that England got their reward for showing patience against a resilient Slovakia team, who had defender Martin Skrtel sent off for two bookable offences. "We didn't panic, that was the main thing. We stuck to our plan and kept our shape. Adam scored the goal to get us off to an excellent start," the United and England captain remarked.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney gets some instructions from the touchline during the match Getty Images

Rooney's sentiments were echoed by Allardyce, who admitted he was relieved to have won his first game in charge of the national team. "It was pretty nerve-racking at the end because the ten-men scenario meant we must win. [But] we got what we deserved in the end and won in the last minute," Allardyce said. "We have dominated the game and got a very important win."